This is ‘Hollywood’ Jordan Crawford, courtesy of the inter-webs.
The ever-turning world of the Los Angeles Lakers comes to the District tonight, fresh off an overtime loss in Detroit last night. You think Kobe and Co. will be motivated to take care of business? Otherwise, Washington’s Nick Young will be showing off in front of his hometown team, and former Maryland Terp Steve Blake will once again be returing home, in a sense. Hey, did you know that in the 2011 calendar year, the Wizards and Lakers did not play each other? That’s the first time the two teams have gone a year without a matchup since forever (dating back to when the Washington franchise was known as the Chicago Packers in ’61-62). Note: This happened because both WAS-LAL games in the 2010-11 season came in December 2010. The last time the Wizards beat the Lakers in Washington came on December 26, 2005… that’s like 2,263 days ago. For today’s 3-on-3, we have Andy Kamenetzy from ESPN Los Angeles’ Land O’ Lakers blog (@ESPNLandOLakers), along with TAI’s Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20) and John Converse Townsend (@JohnCTownsend). Three questions, three answers starts now…
#1) The Lakers weren’t able to slow down Pistons PG Rodney Stuckey, who gashed LA’s defense for 34 points in a Detroit overtime win last night. It looks like an opportunity for John Wall to live up to his “Game Changer” moniker. What would have a bigger impact for the Wizards: 20-plus points or 10-plus assists from Wall?
ANDY KAMENETZKY: Honestly, I don’t think which stats Wall accumulates matter as much as “how” they’re accumulated. If he’s scoring or table-setting in the half court, the Lakers will take their chances and almost certainly win. If Wall is constantly in transition, he could turn deadly as a scorer or facilitator. Gun to my head, I’d rather him be a facilitator, since he’s prone to turnovers, and the dudes he’s passing to aren’t exactly world beaters. But any opportunities to showcase his speed give me the Willies.
RASHAD MOBLEY: Yes Rodney Stuckey had 34 points, but a closer examination of the Pistons boxscore (I know Mark Cuban has trivialized them, so humor me) demonstrates that no other Pistons starter was really involved in the offense (Greg Monroe was 1-for-10 with two points, Tayshaun Prince and Jason Maxiell both had 10 points each, and Ben Gordon only scored five of his 16 points in the second half). If the Wizards are that monolithic in their approach, and rely on Wall’s scoring to bail them out, the Lakers, who will already be on edge after last night’s game, will blow them out. Conversely, if Wall can score 15-20 points and get JaVale, Crawford, Vesely and Booker involved to the tune of 10-15 assists, the Wizards become a more difficult team to stop.
JOHN CONVERSE TOWNSEND: With the Lakers on the tail end of a back-to-back, there’s a good chance Wall could record his second consecutive 20-10 double-double, following a 20-point 14-assist night against the Golden State Warriors on Monday. I’m putting greater value on Wall’s assist total; double-digit dimes would suggest something more than a sisyphean effort from the Wizards — you know, with Wall pushing the rock up the floor, alone, only to be repeatedly denied by a rangy Lakers frontcourt. (Worth noting: John Wall has averaged 24 points (.508 FG%) and 9.5 assists since the All-Star break.)
#2) Which trio would you rather have for the next three years? John Wall, Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee? Or Andrew Goudelock, Josh McRoberts and Andrew Bynum? Why? (Note: the rest of your ficticious team’s players much come from the Bobcats/Raptors.)
KAMENETZKY: Let’s be honest. Either choice will likely prompt me to maintain — or even increase — my current bourbon habit. But in a pinch, I’ll take the Laker trio. Both groupings look mismatched and potentially problematic, so as a tie breaker, I’ll go with the best, most proven player. That’s Bynum in a runaway, even if you believe in Wall’s potential. That Blatche and McGee seem borderline uncoachable at times doesn’t gravitate me towards them either. Whatever the limitations or weaknesses of McRoberts and Goudelock, both have pretty good heads on their shoulders. And the Goudelock floater is so pretty to watch.
However, if the game suddenly played with three balls or side-by-side backboards, I reserve the right to change my mind.
MOBLEY: Wall, Blatche and McGee all day long. I like McRoberts’ feisty, Bill Laimbeer-like antagonistic play, but Bynum is Greg Oden-lite in the injury department and Goudelock is unproven. Wall is improving every day (just ask Warriors coach Mark Jackson), McGee is a bonehead at time, but his productive moments make it awfully difficult to quit him. Blatche is the weak link of the three, but if I can get a Avery Johnson/Scott Skiles-type as my coach, my worry would be much less.
TOWNSEND: I’d roll with John Wall, Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee. Since the values of Blatche and McRoberts are about equal (ignoring the cost of contracts), the question becomes whether the team would be better with Wall and McGee or Goudelock and Bynum. Goudelock can bomb atomically, but Wall brings so much more to the table as a scorer, distributor and leader. And though Bynum is a stud with smarts, polish and six years of NBA experience, McGee has plenty of upside. The “future of the NBA” has proven to be a disruptive defender, and hopefully a little extra seasoning can spice up McGee’s offense game.
#3) The Lakers are favored by seven points. If they don’t do [BLANK], the Wizards have a chance. But if the Wizards don’t do [BLANK] it may be a blowout loss for the home team. Either way, what’s your final score prediction?
KAMENETZKY: If the Lakers don’t take care of the ball, exercise good shot selection or get back in transition, the Wizards have a chance. Last night’s loss against the Pistons demonstrated how badly things can go for the Lakers when they allow opponents to run. Considering how the Wizards love to get out on the break, the scenario could turn seriously problematic. But if the Wizards don’t receive this gift from the Lakers, I don’t see how they can win. There are only so many points Nick Young can score, (although the the number of shots he’ll take is theoretically infinite). Either way, I’ll say 96-90 Lakers.
MOBLEY: If the Lakers don’t take a cue from the Warriors and come out strong and defiant in the first quarter (which Kobe Bryant make take it upon himself to do), then the Wizards have a chance to gain confidence, hang around, and steal the game, just as the Pistons did the night before. If the Wizards get another 1-for-13 half of shooting from Jordan Crawford and Nick Young combined, they will surely get blown out. Final score: 105-93 Lakers.
TOWNSEND: If the Lakers don’t clean up their transition defense, a weakness teams have exposed in the past, the Wizards have a chance — assuming they don’t sleepwalk through another game. But if the Wizards can’t keep the Lakers off the glass, it may be a blowout loss for the home team. Los Angeles wins their tenth straight game over Washington, 98-89.
I did the A part of a Q&A about tonight’s game with Andy Kamenetzky for Land O’ Lakers… check it out.
[Land O' Lakers, ESPN Los Angeles]
Kobe on Tuesday night’s 88-85 overtime loss in Detroit: “Everybody just kind of played tired. I definitely was a little tired. I should have stayed in bed like I’ve been doing instead of coming to shoot-around [Tuesday] morning.” Whatever the case, I doubt Los Angeles’ loss coming into a road back-to-back in Washington will really matter much.
Seems like Charles Barkley is willing to criticize Michael Jordan regarding the inept way he runs the Charlotte Bobcats afterall. “I think the biggest problem has been I don’t know if he has hired enough people around him who he will listen to,” Barkley speculates.
The Caps are barely floundering above .500 (actually, just winning 28 of 66 games with five ties on the season, they are below .500 — hockey has a point system… whatever) and have a worse record with their new coach than their old coach. After two losses to New Jersey and Philadelphia this past weekend (make that three straight losses, all at home, after falling to Carolina last night), they sit two points behind Winnipeg, the team currently seated eighth in the Eastern Conference playoff chase. Ted Leonsis, however, wrote on his blog on Monday: “There isn’t much to analyze right now.”
This is, Kevin Seraphin…